Zenobia, a 56-year-old Lexington native who comes from a background of poverty and domestic abuse, has spent more than 40% of her life in jail. She was released from her most recent stint in April of 2020. She was breathing but said she felt lifeless.

Zenobia was headed into the New Circle Crossings Goodwill store in Lexington to shop when she noticed the career center next door. She lacked self-esteem and was hesitant to reach for a hand up as a result of her background.

“I walked in there really beat down,” she said. “Zero state of mind, feeling like life was not going to do me right because of my past. And you all wanted to do right. When I walked in there, Lynn Dohner, she really opened her arms to me. She assisted me with every program there was.”

From that point on, Zenobia was able to regain her sense of living one resource at a time. She took part in our Reintegrating Individuals Successfully Every Day (RISE) program, which provided her soft skills, digital training, resume help and many work-readiness certificates, which she said felt like “a master’s degree.”

She graduated the program and earned a laptop, a $300 stipend and a Walmart gift card. She said she uses the computer every day thanks to the skills she learned in the digital literacy classes. She also completed financial literacy classes offered by Apprisen. She’s paid off half of her creditors since taking the course.

“I have been lucky to witness Zenobia’s growth over 2020 and into 2021,” Dohner, Zenobia’s career coach, said. “I am beyond proud of all that she has overcome in so many areas of her life. Life has thrown quite a few curveballs, but she has built resilience through her struggles and committed to the process of growing.”

The cherry on top was her being hired at the New Circle Crossings store. She said she felt at home working with others with similar backgrounds, including her manager.

“Zenobia is one of my most driven employees,” said Christopher Burchett, New Circle Crossings store manager. “She takes pride in her work and models our core values every shift. Zenobia is definitely someone I look forward to seeing grow and moving up.”

After depositing $250 for the Goodwill Cars to Work program, which offers secured auto loans to individuals – employees or non-employees of Goodwill – with low or no credit, among other requirements, Zenobia received a vehicle, which is the latest in a long list of accomplishments she has through Goodwill.

She is currently working toward one more goal: looking for a dentist in order to take advantage of an employee benefits program that pays up to $5,000 for dental work, as she’s missing some of her teeth.

Because of all these accomplishments, Zenobia, an alcohol and drug addict, said she has been clean for nine months.

“I could bust out crying about where they’ve lifted me from,” Zenobia said. “I haven’t looked back, and I haven’t felt sorry for myself. If I set a goal, I achieve a goal. … God has relieved me of the desire, and I’m not in the atmosphere anymore with those people, places and things. I’m around people that are positive. And what I get to do now is lift someone else up. I tell everyone in Lexington about the Goodwill.”

Even before Zenobia began abusing alcohol and drugs, she said she can’t think of any bigger achievements than those she’s making with our help. She said she has a life again thanks in part to Goodwill’s career services. And because of the impact we’ve had on her, she’s determined to “share the wealth.”

“Someone picked me up, so I have to pick someone else up,” she said.